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Zoo Boise, a division of Boise Parks and Recreation, is saddened to announce that 22-year-old female lion Mudiwa has been diagnosed with kidney disease. Under human care, the median life expectancy of a female lion is about 17 years. Mudiwa joined Zoo Boise in 2008 and was among the first lions ever to join the Zoo Boise family.

Zoo staff started to notice something was off when Mudiwa began to lose weight and her appetite fluctuated dramatically. During a series of exams over the past six months, the zoo’s animal care and veterinarian staff performed x-rays, an ultrasound, fine needle aspirates, and multiple bloodwork tests to determine a cause. Results show that Mudiwa’s kidney values were increasing, indicating protein buildup that her kidneys couldn’t clear out correctly. According to medical experts, for kidney values to increase like this, it means that at least 67% of the kidneys aren’t functioning properly.

“We are assessing the situation day by day and giving Mudiwa the best care possible,” said Zoo Boise Veterinarian Dr. Melissa Cavaretta. “In-between bloodwork, zookeepers are checking on her multiple times per day, monitoring fecal and urine output, how much she is eating, and her body condition to make sure she is stable and comfortable.”

To help maintain Mudiwa’s quality of life, zoo staff is providing her with antacids, pain reduction medication and medication that helps reduce the protein amount secreted in her urine. Along with her regular diet, the Zoo Boise animal care team is encouraging her to increase her food and fluid intake by providing her with ice blocks, chicken broth, milk, and easy to digest food like liver.

“These situations are never easy as every animal is an important member of our zoo family,” said Zoo Boise Deputy Director Laura Mathews. “Our staff understands that visitors get to know these animals and form real connections with them. Our staff can relate – some team members have known and cared for Mudiwa throughout the entire time she has been in Boise. She is an important part of all we do, including our conservation and educational efforts.”

Zoo Boise would like to thank the community, guests, and partners for their support and well wishes during this difficult time. Zoo Boise will be posting regular updates about Mudiwa on their social media platforms and on the Zoo Boise website. Mudiwa will remain on exhibit and community members are welcome to stop by Zoo Boise and see her.

Zoo Boise has turned the act of visiting the zoo into a conservation action. Since 2007, visits to Zoo Boise have generated more than $3 million towards the conservation of animals in the wild, redefining why we have a zoo. Zoo Boise is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a national organization that supports excellence in animal care, conservation, education, and science.